Category Archives: the berlin notices

Notes written during my stay in Berlin, Germany in the summer of 2004, from May 5 to September 2, 2004.

The Berlin Notices

From May 5 untill September 2, 2004 I resided in Neukoelln, berlin. This predominantly Turkish quarter lies in the heart of Berlin, bordering Kreuzberg. In no other city in Europe so many Turks reside as in Berlin, which gave the city its playful knick-name as the second largest city of Turkey. The Dutch author Cees Nooteboom published in 1990 a book entitled ‘Berlin Notices.’ The Berlin Notices at are a collection of notes I wrote during my stay in Berlin during the summer of 2004.

The streets of little Turkey (4)

In the morning, the wind blew a fresh breeze through the house. As soon as they woke up, Nuray would first open the bedroom window, then wake up their children Roberto and Azize. Berk would be up a little later, swiftly putting on his favorite jeans. He then walked up to the front room, shifted aside the lace curtain and looked up to check the morning wheather. An elonged yawn passed into an undecipherable growl, Berk turned the key two turns clock wise, and opened the door. A draft pulled through the house, refreshing the night odour that had accumulated. This morning again, you could clearly notice the smell of hop from the Kindl brewery. Although, they never drank beer, she loved the smell of hop, in a way it reminded her of the barns in her hometown, that were filled with grain, despite the slight rottenness there seems to be mixed in such smell. Continue reading

The streets of little Turkey (3)

The pitch of a two propeller plane’s buzz lowered quickly as it pulled up from Tempelhof airport. Just about hundred meters above the houses along the Lufthafenstrasse it turned east-northward and slowly disappeared. Roberto was briefly distracted by the deep humming in the sky, he looked up but quickly his eyes followed a group of three grayblack pigeons, that flapped their wings in a spastic frequence, giving their flight from the gutter a quick jumpstart. At the horizon the hazy silver boll of the Radioturm with its red-white spire towered eternally above the city.

A mother, veiled in a white hajib and plain gray jilbab, pushing a perambulator in front of her, while her two other toddlers hurried a few meters later after her. The mother payed little attention to her toddlers, strolling ahead in a bored pace. Every few seconds she stopped and turned her face in a sudden annoyance, bellowing at her toddlers. Continue reading

The streets of little Turkey (2)

Berk had a limp, because his left leg was shorter than his right leg. Since they lived in Germany and had been able to see a good doctor, he wore adjusted shoes for his handicap. But because as a child in Turkey his parents had been unable to afford to see a doctor, he had grown up twisting and turning his hips, while limping on his right leg. Even with the specially adjusted shoes, his body had become so

television repair

stuffing pillows

The streets of little Turkey (1)

Roberto spat the watermelon pits he held in his mouth at his mother, sitting on the chair next to the door. He jump up and back for a few inches and boldly awaited his mother yelling at him. Little Azize stood silently in the dooropening, holding the curtain hanging in front of it, and watching his older brother with a certain sense of admiration. Little Azize was no sweetheart either, but he was perhaps still too young or maybe just too respectful to spit as his mother. Their mother started cursing at them while she threw her flat hand up in the air: ‘May god have mercy upon me, you little devil!’ She touched her temples with her fingertips and lamentated. Roberto took another bite from the slice of watermelon he held in his hands. Azize now dared to show a little smile, when his brother turned his attentive eye to him. Continue reading

The metamorphoses of American leadership in the 20th century

The Wilson Vision
On 8 January 1918 the American president Woodrow Wilson before a joint session of US Congress outlines his famous Fourteen Points as a basis for a lasting peace in Europe. At the heart of this speech was the idea of the self-determination of all people. The principle of self-determination could not stand on its own, and to guarantee a framework for such balance of powers Wilson added restrictions on armament, that were designed for national security a priori. Not even 90 years later, the Republican president George W. Bush formulates his policy of pre-emptive strikes in the aftermath of 9/11 which allowed the US to strike first and ‘pre-emptively’. There could hardly be a greater world apart between the principle of self-determination and the policy of pre-emptive strikes. The question that should be asked is if this development from one to the other is a historic evolution or a sudden, drastic shift in policy under influence of dramatic contemporary events?

The Truman Conditions
In 1944/45 the Americans liberated the world from fascism and established democratic regimes. The years of the Cold War, were in retrospect perhaps the zenith of American power. Never before, were countries around the world indebted to the US as during the Cold War. Continue reading

‘How much for this? What?! It’s junk!’

‘How much for this? What?! It’s junk! Who would ever buy it, anyway?’

In Berlin the second-hand market is still thriving, and you will find more than a few authentic markets. At Moritzplatz, the second hand market has a permanent spot at the corner of Prinzenstrasse and Prinzessinenstrasse, and it is one of the more original ones. Here, the market culture of the many Turks, Russians and the German bargain hunters extends to western Europe’s set-prices system. It’s perfect to train your bargaining skills, to overcome your reluctance for embarrassment, your eager tactics of underpricing, remaining insensitive to the ‘insulted’ Turk’s curses.

A small accordeon is to cost € 40, when hesitant the merchant pushes the accordeon in my hands, ‘go ahead, try it,’ he tries to establish an emotional attachment between me and the instrument, but when disinterested the merchant urges me to name my price. A small iron candybox should cost € 0.50, but without cutting off from the price it’s ‘just junk,’ while a fixed up bike goes for € 100, yet € 50 is out of the question, neither of us is interested to strike a deal. Continue reading

Potsdam: past palaces

Potsdam might be known best to most people for several reasons. The Potsdam Conference of 17 July 1945 at the Schloss Cecilienhof confirmed agreements made at the earlier Conference at Yalta between the three allied leaders Jozef Stalin, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill (later replaced by Clement Atlee). Also in Potsdam you may visit the villa, which now houses the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz memorial, where Hitler and fifteen high-ranking officials and SS-officers met on 20 January 1942 to decide to the “Endlösung,” the extermination of the Jews. But Potsdam is also home to Schloss Sanssouci (French for “Without worry”), the name of the palace of Frederik II or Frederik the Great. The palace is now somewhat of a place of pilgrimage to German nationalists. And whereever you turn in the little town of Potsdam, you are bound to stumble into a palace here or there. Potsdam is traditionally a resort town, in the past for princes and empires, in our time for the ordinary Berliner. At bahnhof Griebnitzsee, Wannsee or Nikolassee day tourists leave the S-Bahn to visit the lakes for a swim to cool down. Continue reading


Between Politics and Art
Hegel’s desinterested pleasure
the moral obligation or the self-interest of each individual to engage in social matters
the volatility of politics versus the solidity of arts

Ausländer und Ausländer
At the large Turkish grocery store at Hermann Strasse, while ordering the

Visit to the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Samarra under the Abbasids (749-1258)
Palace of Mshatta (mid 8th century)
Aleppo Room (1600-1603)

Die Präraffaeliten, Dichtung, Malerei, Ästhetik, Rezeption (1992)
Navid Kermani, Gott ist schön, dass ästhetische Erleben des Koran (1999)